Meet the BloggerSarah Miller, Gin A Ding Ding.
Published: 14th September 2018
In our latest Meet the Blogger, we caught up Sarah Miller, the founder behind the very popular Gin A Ding Ding gin blog. Sarah is a gin drinker, gin reviewer, gin writer and more recently a gin judge. Sarah’s knowledge and love for gin was recognised when she was asked to be a judge at Craft Distilling Expo’s Gin of the Year 2017 and more recently the 2018 World Gin Awards.
When and where was your first Gin & Tonic?
I honestly can’t remember but it was probably at home with my parents and I was probably too young to really like it! When I did start enjoying gin and tonics I was certainly influenced by my parents’ drink cabinet and I started out drinking Gordon’s and Schweppes. It was my older brother who introduced all of us to Bombay Sapphire but it was still some time before I ventured further than that.
What started you off on your blogging journey?
It was a gradual process but it was definitely helped by my uncanny knack for winning competitions! In the summer of 2014 I won tickets to Gin Journey’s London Gin Experience and learnt about the history of gin at Beefeater and about the craft gin renaissance at Sipsmith. I also won a bottle of Sipsmith for the best social media coverage of the day, which kicked off my collection. Then in the summer of 2015 I won another 10 bottles of gin from 31 Dover including Elephant Gin and Half Hitch. I was enjoying it all so much that I started my @gin_a_ding_ding twitter account to follow and engage with more brands and gin lovers but it wasn’t until after I won tickets to Junipalooza in 2016 that I finally had the courage to start the blog itself.
What’s the day job?
I work at The Horniman Museum and Gardens in south east London. I’m the Documentation Officer, which means I deal with lots of paperwork as well as managing new acquisitions and disposals. It’s a fascinating museum with anthropology, natural history and musical instrument collections, as well as an aquarium and a butterfly house, but there isn’t much overlap with the gin job. Although I have built up a very good relationship with the local Forest Hill Gin Club so you never know where that might lead…
What do you do to stay abreast of the latest gin news?
To be honest I mostly rely on Twitter and word of mouth. I have lots of friends and contacts in the gin industry now, which is fantastic so I’m often gossiping with them about what’s going on. And The Gin Foundry website is, of course, always worth keeping an eye on – particularly their news and insights sections.
Who’s your favourite gin blogger?
I can’t possibly answer that; so many of them are good friends! I really enjoy reading the writing of David T Smith, Emma Stokes (aka Gin Monkey) and Cherry Constable whether online or in print. I also like to keep up with what The Gin Lord, Gin Obsessions and Under the Ginfluence are up to.
Tell us something about yourself outside the world of gin…
I have two kids and love to travel. This year we went to Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. The fact they grow some of the best juniper in the world was nothing more than a happy coincidence (honestly!), but by the end of the holiday the kids were pretty bored of me stopping to admire it! And sadly, despite all the juniper, they don’t make – or even drink – much gin in Macedonia. Duty Free was a particularly disappointing sight!
Would you admit to having a favourite gin?!
No, but only because I never have just one favourite; it depends so much on my mood. One of my favourites at the moment is definitely Garden Swift (formerly Garden Tiger), which I’ve recently reviewed. I also write a top ten every year; current contenders for 2018 include Batch Industrial Strength, Pothecary Thai Blend, Kew Explorer Strength and Hapusa from India. But, for a good value go-to gin, never underestimate Beefeater either!
What’s your personal ‘perfect serve’?
I love a gin and tonic and I drink more of those than almost anything else! I always say the perfect serve depends on the gin but plenty of ice, 2-3 times as much tonic as gin and a complimentary garnish is the rule. If in doubt, I always opt for Fever-Tree Indian tonic water, and my go-to garnish is pink grapefruit, but I love trying different mixers too; Luscombe and Double Dutch are two of my current favourites.
What’s the best and worst thing about being a gin blogger?
The best thing is all the free gin obviously (although I do have to earn it)! But also the amazing events and opportunities that come my way such as attending launches and judging gin competitions. Recently I was even asked to give my personal feedback on a gin in production; The Wrecking Coast’s navy strength Scurvy Gin. I’ve also met a lot of wonderful people; the gin industry is incredibly passionate, generous and supportive.
I guess the worst thing is patiently leaving bottles unopened until the time comes to review them and finding the time to get all the tasting and writing done. At the moment I have at least ten unopened bottles staring at me! Sometimes I also just want to have a gin without thinking about it, photographing it, tweeting it etc but often the blogger brain kicks in and it can be hard to switch off! That said, it’s not a bad problem to have and you certainly won’t find me complaining (although you might find me having a beer instead on one of those days!).
Who’s supported you on your gin journey?
My husband who, thankfully, has also acquired a taste for gin and actually has a really good palate too so he often helps with my tastings at home. Better still, he’s an editor and patiently reads everything for me before I hit publish. He helps create and edit most of my videos too. I certainly couldn’t do it without him.
What Scottish Gins are you looking forward to trying out next?
There are so many great Scottish Gins! Inshriach is one of my absolute favourites as are Makar and Kirkjuvagr. I’d love to get my hands on a bottle of Biggar Gin since it won the London Dry Gin category at The Gin Guide Awards 2018. And I’ve heard very positive things about Red Door Gin so I’m really looking forward to trying that as well as Edinburgh 1670 and Kinrara.
What plans does Gin A Ding Ding have for 2018?
I’m hoping to try and give the small producers a bigger platform, which is something I’m quite passionate about. But I’ve also got to balance being honest about what their gins are like and how they are making them. I’m really looking forward to Catford Gin Festival next month, which has an amazing line-up including Scotland’s fantastic Colonsay Gin. I’ve got a lot of reviews planned for the rest of the year including Twelve Keys from Norfolk, Surrey’s Hidden Curiosities, South African gin Six Dogs and Koval from the States so that should keep me busy. And with any luck I’ll finish the year off with the craziness that is Ginvent again!
Images courtesy of Gin A Ding Ding.